Penang’s traffic woes the bane of locals, tourists

Penang-JamGEORGE TOWN: Penang, especially its capital city George Town, is a magnetic pull for domestic and foreign tourists coming to the island.

However, they are not spared from traffic congestion due to the increasing volume of vehicles from outside the state.

For residents of the island, they have learned to cope with the traffic congestion in the city, particularly during peak hours and school days as well as long weekend holidays.

Among the roads constantly congested during peak hours are the stretches from Jalan Sungai Pinang to Jalan Perak, Jalan Masjid Negeri, Jalan Air Hitam, Lebuhraya Lim Chong Eu leading to the Penang bridge and the road leading to Bayan Lepas and Balik Pulau.

During the holiday season, traffic jams are a routine occurrence in tourist spots like Batu Ferringi, Bukit Bendera and Jalan Penang.

Based on statistics obtained from the Penang Road Transport Department, the cumulative number of vehicles in the state was increasing annually.

The number of vehicles in the state in 2014 rose 3.8% to 2,500,220 from 2,408,715 in 2013.

In 2015, the number of vehicles again rose to 2,556,735.

According to statistics, there were 36,628 new registrations of motor vehicles from January to September last year. From the total, 25,353 were motorcycles; cars (8,892); buses (74); taxis (87); own rental cars (37); goods vehicles (1,770); and other vehicles (415).

Roads are also built too close to the sidewalks of buildings, and the attitude of most drivers in Penang who have no qualms parking their vehicles along the narrow shoulders of roads that often do not have bicycle lanes, only serve to make matters worse.

“Driving in Penang scares me,” said a 34-year-old American national who requested anonymity and has been residing and working here for almost a year.

Azman Ngah, who visited Penang with his family for the first time during the last school holidays, said it took patience and constant alertness to drive on the island.

“Most of the roads in the city centre are narrow, which is made worse by the bad attitude of motorcyclists and cars that stop on the road shoulder,” he added.